Consumer Information & Links

As a consumer, choosing a company that will provide you with quality, licensed security and life safety systems can be a daunting task. The Nevada Security Association wants to be a source for consumers to finding the security and life safety company that is right for you.

The Nevada Security Association is a chartered chapter of the national Electronic Security Association(ESA). ESA is the largest professional trade association in the U.S. that represents the electronic life safety, security and integrated systems industry. ESA is made up of a select group of trusted security companies.

There are a lot of questions and knowledge to digest before selecting a qualified alarm company. Review the items below to make sure you are selecting the best service for your needs.


Selecting an Alarm Company

Following are some tips for selecting a home security alarm company:

  • Contact several different companies. Ask if they are members of the Nevada Security Association. Our members agree to maintain a high level of conduct under state and national codes of ethics.
  • Contact the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against the companies.
  • Narrow the field to 3 or 4 companies. Arrange an appointment with each company when all members of your household will be present. Be sure to ask for the name of the person who will be calling on you, and verify his or her identification upon arrival.
  • Ask for an inspection, demonstration and a quotation in writing. Also ask for and check references.
  • Study each contract to ensure you know exactly what you are getting. Consider the merits of leasing vs. buying.

An alarm system is only as good as its user. Be sure that the system installer explains how the system works thoroughly and answers all of your questions. Everyone who will be using the system should be present during this educational process.

Many municipalities are now charging fines for excessive false alarms, as they cost taxpayers thousands of dollars a year by taking police officers away from other duties to investigate the alarm. For this reason, you should be very careful in arming and disarming your system.

If your system develops any problems or you have further questions regarding it, contact the installer.


Local Alarm Ordinances

Many municipalities have alarm ordinances requiring each home and office alarm to be registered. Some municipalities no longer dispatch police to activated alarms unless they are verified first. Other municipalities are now charging fines for excessive false alarms.

Check with your local municipality on their specific rules and regulations. Sometimes, sales people who are not local to your area do not have the most up-to-date information on local regulations. It's always best for you to check with your local municipality and police department on their policies.


Insurance Savings

Check with your homeowners insurance company! Typically they offer a discount between 2% and 20% on your insurance when you install a security system. Ask your agent which type of system will qualify you for the greatest savings.


The Basic Devices

The basic elements of a standard home security system are:

  • A Control Panel: The location where your system wiring terminates and your backup battery is located.
  • A Keypad: to arm and disarm your system.
  • A Siren: A loud siren will alert you when there's been a break-in and it also lets an intruder know he's been detected.
  • An Inside Motion Detector: Passive infrared, microwave or photoelectric detectors sense changes in a room caused by human presence. Special Motion Detectors are available for people who have pets.
  • Door and Window Contacts: Magnetic contacts form a circuit between a door and door frame or a window and a sill; when the door or window is opened (and the alarm is on) the circuit is broken and this sounds the alarm.
  • A Central Monitoring Station: Emergency signals from your home are electronically transmitted to the 24-hour monitoring station, which summons help from police, fire or medics.

The best home security system will be customized to your lifestyle - it will take your schedule into account and will specifically protect the things you value the most.

It has been proven that user education is the best defense against false alarms. It is very important that the installer teach you and your family how to properly use your security system, including false alarm prevention measures.


Additional Devices

In addition to the basics, there are some additional devices you should consider incorporating in your home security system. These include:

  • Smoke Detectors: These provide an early warning of fire and should be installed throughout your home.
  • Glass Break Detectors: These devices recognize the sound of glass breaking and will sound the alarm.
  • Panic Buttons: These buttons can be hand-held or maybe be located in strategic places such as next to beds and doors; just pushing the button will sound the alarm.
  • Pressure Mats: These mats can be placed under rugs and they react to pressure from footsteps to activate the alarm.
  • Closed-circuit TV: This is a private TV system which allows you to monitor and/or record inside or outside your home.
  • Alarm Screens: These are special screens for your windows which have a wire woven in their mesh which will activate your alarm when cut or removed.


Basic Operation of an Alarm System

If your alarm system is monitored, it will send a signal to the central monitoring station each time it is activated (i.e., the door or window contacts are broken when in the alarm is on, or the motion detector senses a human presence in the building). This signal will usually be sent over your phone line (in some systems, cellular phones may be used as a backup).

In many cases the central monitoring station will call your home or office prior to calling the police to verify that this is not a false alarm. If they do not get an answer at your home or office, or if the person who answers the phone does not give the proper password, the central monitoring station will then call the appropriate authority (police, fire or medical services). They will also try to contact you or another one of your representatives so someone can meet the authorities at the building.


Use Technology to Take Control of Your Home

Home automation is a hot topic, not just among the technologically savvy crowd and remodeling enthusiasts, but also among increasing numbers of mainstream homeowners.

Automation is quickly picking up speed as the must-have consumer technology, and for good reason. From setting the alarm via smartphone to turning on lights automatically and programming the air conditioning, technology brings enhanced convenience, comfort and safety for consumers where they need it most—at home.

Many homeowners have already taken advantage of this technology, and more are joining the ranks every day. Homeowners who are planning to make the switch to an automated or smart home should consider three factors: what system features are important, who is qualified to install the system, and how to select the right company for the job.

With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, it's easy to get overwhelmed by the possibilities. To avoid feature overload, homeowners should think about what they want out of their system and how those features will fit into their home, budget and lifestyle. For example, if security is a major concern, a system with automated door locks and remote access to alarm controls would be near the top of the list. By thoughtfully creating a must-have list of components, a homeowner will be able to clearly communicate the vision of a smart home to a professional who can turn it into reality.

This leads us to an important point: Designing and installing a home automation system is a task that's best left to professionals. Home automation systems can be complex, and should be installed by a licensed professional who is trained to understand the details of a customized system. By using a professional with expertise in automation, homeowners will receive a well-installed system, along with personalized attention and training tailored specifically to their needs. They'll also get continued support from experts.

John Knox, president of Knox Integrated Systems in Knoxville, Tenn., has been a security industry professional for more than 25 years, with more than a decade of experience providing automation services to homeowners. Knox, who also serves as the president of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), says homeowners should pay special attention to the systems and providers they choose to automate their homes.

"The idea behind home automation is to make life simpler," Knox said. "But when a homeowner chooses an inexperienced provider or products that won't work correctly, they may be making their life more complicated. Homeowners need companies that can give them tech support whenever they need it."

When a homeowner installs a home automation system, a great amount of trust is placed in the provider's hands. Not only will a company enable homeowners to easily control the everyday functions of the home– such as lighting and temperature– but they will be responsible for ensuring the safety and security of the residents.

That's why security companies are a logical choice to handle these responsibilities. Their demonstrated expertise in the installation and operation of security systems makes them a natural choice when adding home automation services.

But, as Knox is quick to point out, not all security companies that offer home automation services are created equal.

"Home automation is not a ‘plug and play' type of service," he said. "Homeowners need to seek out security companies who have specialized training and experience in home automation."

Homeowners can use to find trusted security companies within their area. After narrowing it down to two or three companies, homeowners should ask each company the following questions:

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Can you provide references for previous home automation work you've completed?
  • Are your employees licensed to work on different systems, such as heating, air conditioning, and lighting?
  • If your employees don't have the required licenses, with which companies do you subcontract to do the work?
  • What kind of support and training do you offer once the installation is complete?

It's also important that homeowners thoroughly read and understand the contract before agreeing to installation or service, Knox said. A professional, credible company will be open to questions and never try to rush through closing a deal.

With a little bit of imagination, a lot of planning, and some solid support from a skilled provider, homeowners can truly create a smart home that will give them what they deserve: a secure lifestyle with enhanced control and convenience for years to come.


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